We recently introduced you to A4D member Mary Roberts in our weekly DanceBlast newsletter. We shared Mary’s incredible journey through the COVID-19 shutdown and the steps she took to survive the loss of her cruise ship livelihood and her triumphant return to the choreography work she loves.
The good news is Cruise ships are relaunching and dancers are getting ready to go back to dancing at sea! Mary wants to help you be one of the lucky ones who nails the auditions and wins the contract.
As an industry insider, Mary wants to help you succeed! Here’s her tips!
Do your research.
Every company out there has a different culture and while your best friend may have loved working with one line, you may fall in love with a different line. You’ll each have incredible experiences, and when you love the gig, you know you have found the right cruise line for you.
Where do you go to find out more? Social Media!
Follow the hashtags of each line and you’ll discover so much! If you absolutely LOVE a certain Broadway or West End show, auditioning for cruise lines could land you a great gig, performing in the cruise line edition of your dream show, all while traveling the world. I mean, what could be better?
Ready to Audition?
First thing to remember: Cruise lines want to know who you are in look, energy, and talent. Onboard, you perform and LIVE with your cast. Enter the space as your best self, and if you’re submitting a reel, make sure to showcase your personality as much as your ability.
At auditions, ladies and gentleman, if you intend to work in heels, be prepared to audition in heels! A friend of mine recently auditioned for Kinky Boots but had never danced in heels. He found a used pair, LIVED in them for days, and by the time he auditioned, showed up as a dancer more than capable of nailing the job, IN HEELS. And, guess what? He booked the gig! Be ready, and I mean REALLY ready to be the perfect choice for the job you want.
Submitting Virtually? CHOREOGRAPH your reels!
Wait, what??? When you choreograph, you curate the movement, the music, AND you consider the audience and the venue. Remember ALL of this when you create your reel.
Main Tips for Reels: Keep it under 2:00, capture casting directors’ attention in the first 10 seconds, and remember who you are auditioning for (i.e., people you want to hire you!)
Cruise line entertainment is just that: Entertainment. You need to show your face and how you perform. Use quick shots of YOU and keep it interesting for the whole 2:00. Your audience is mostly people you want to hire you. DO NOT BORE THEM!
You BOOKED THE GIG!! Now what???
A-MAZING! When you arrive to rehearsals, remember how grateful you are to be there, and stay open and receptive. Receptivity makes you the kind of performer choreographers LOVE to work with. The cast I recently taught were pros at this and it made my job much easier.
One final thing I want to bring up as a choreographer, When dancers are learning material, pay close attention to the HOW. Dancers have been taking classes staring into small screens and have literally ‘flattened’ how they dance during the pandemic. Knowing the choreography isn’t enough if you can’t deliver the performance. Re-develop your sense of ‘how' a show needs to be performed and then follow it through with depth and fullness.
There is just so much to think about as cruise ships re-launch, but if you want to book that gig, and you’re ready to get back to work, take the advice you can from the industry professionals. Casting directors, choreographers, producers, literally, every person getting entertainment back to sea are your BIGGEST FANS, and we are all cheering you on!
Mary’s final thoughts.
Answers4Dancers is here to provide you with the support and resources you need to get back to working, wherever your performance destination may be!
Be sure to read Part 1 of MARY’S JOURNEY THROUGH QUARANTINE below!
MARY ROBERTS' JOURNEY THROUGH THE INDUSTRY SHUTDOWN, PART 1
Here's long-time A4D member Mary Roberts. Her story of how she got through the industry shutdown will inspire you. Her can-do attitude carried her every step of the way through the darkest days of 2020 to her triumphant return to the work she loves!
Here’s Mary’s story in her own words:
In early, February 2020, I was learning production shows and receiving contracts for teaching and installing cruise ship casts with Norwegian Creative Studios. In late February, I was working with Royal Caribbean on a vessel in dry dock in Cadiz, Spain installing events for the staff and helping them discover their inner rock stars. When I wasn’t working onboard, I wandered Cadiz, stopping for tapas and cava, and thoroughly enjoying traveling as an integral part of my job as a freelance choreographer.
And then ... the pandemic happened.
On March 1, 2020, I flew back to the States from Spain. Over the next several weeks, every one of my upcoming contracts within the cruise line industry was suspended and then cancelled. So, what did I do when I realized it was all gone? I hustled. I pieced together a life raft of side hustles and part-time jobs to keep me afloat, knowing that at some point, the cruise line industry would return.
I relied on two things every dancer needs to keep in their back pocket: Perseverance and Resilience.
Thankfully, I did manage to survive, with side hustles ranging from Zoom trivia games to Ubering and Instacarting to teaching dance at local studios, to even cleaning an apartment clubhouse late at night. I refused to give up because I knew that WHEN the cruise line industry came back, I wanted to be on the front line.
Today, I just completed teaching two production shows for the Norwegian Gem, one of three vessels kickstarting the return to sail for Norwegian Cruise Lines. I am unbelievably grateful for being asked to come back in the initial stages.
I can truly say, that for all the dancers out there waiting to hear about contracts, get ready! Grab your heels, keep taking class or find classes online. Be that performer who shows up ready to do the job! Ships are beginning to set sail and you could be one of the first back to sea, back to performing, and back to traveling the world doing what you love!